How to Get More Vitamins Into After School Snacks
Kids live for their afterschool snack—but a handful of chips or a few grapes won’t provide the vitamins and nutrients they need to stay fueled through homework time. Many typical after school snacks are packed with sugar, sodium and preservatives, especially if they’re pre-packaged, which leaves them hungry again soon after they finish.
Help your child thrive all year long by packing more vitamins into their after school snacks. If you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, don’t worry—it doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Instead, use these tips to make simple, vitamin-packed after school snacks this year.
Smoothies are an easy way to sneak more vitamins into your child’s after-school snack without them knowing. Even foods like spinach may be easy to spot, thanks to the green color, but impossible to taste. To get the most vitamins into your child’s smoothie, use both fruits and vegetables, along with a healthy fat, like yogurt, milk or coconut shreds.
Some parents worry, however, that their child won’t drink it; no matter how tasty, the wrong consistency can turn them off quickly. The guide, Secrets to Make the Best Protein Shakes for Kids, explains: “While you may assume every shake is creamy, if you blend your protein powder with frozen berries, and miss the ‘creamy’ ingredients, you’ll find to be chunky and seedy, rather than smooth and creamy.”
Luckily, the most vitamin-rich ingredients are the ones that help give smoothies the same consistency as your child’s favorite shake. The same guide suggests using the following ingredients to get the consistency right:
- Nut butters (more about this below)
- Chia seeds
- Cooked sweet potato
Bake With Unconventional Ingredients
Every kid wants to indulge in dessert for their afterschool snack, and when you bake with unconventional ingredients, you can get more vitamins into their favorite treats. For example, black beans make brownies indulgent, while still being packed with vitamins, including calcium, iron and magnesium.
See how you can bring these swaps, from Greatist, into your next batch of goodies, turning them into a healthy afternoon snack:
- Unsweetened applesauce for sugar
- Cacao nibs for chocolate chips
- Avocado puree for butter
- Coconut milk for cream
- Mashed bananas for baking fat
Turn Snacks Into Mini-Meals
When you think snack, thoughts of crackers and goldfish come to mind. Those not only provide minimal nutritional value, but they also don’t leave your child feeling full and satisfied. To get more vitamins into afterschool snacks, turn them into mini-meals.
A meal is inherently more filling and mini-meals are perfect for the after school snack time, so when you think of snacks as a mini-meal, you’re able to incorporate more nutritious foods. For example, a simple sandwich with cheese, avocado and turkey won’t be too filling, but provides healthy fats and protein, along with vitamin B6, vitamin C, and calcium.
Here are some other simple mini-meal ideas to try:
- Half grilled cheese with small cup of tomato soup
- Small cup of veggie pasta salad
- Peanut butter and banana sandwich
In many cases, you can just dish out a small portion of leftovers from last night’s dinner, rather than cooking a new meal.
Sneak More Vitamins Into Afterschool Snacks
The best afterschool snacks are nutritious, filling and satisfying. Jill Castle, RD and pediatric dietician, also suggests a simple checklist you can use to make sure every afterschool snack is healthier:
- Include more than one food group
- Include a source of protein
- Stick with small portions
- Focus on variety
As you test new ideas and recipes, you’ll start to develop your go-to rolodex of options, making it easier to throw snacks together quickly or ahead of time. Fuel your child through homework time with these simple ideas and watch them thrive with more vitamins in their diet.